Rightwing Film Geek

Zeit fur Funkyzeit

To quote G-Money: “We’ll be seeing a lot more of these.

Sacha Baron Cohen is working on a BORAT sequel, based on Bruno, a garishly gay Austrian fashionista who is the only one of Cohen’s three principal characters who hasn’t had a movie yet (Ali G had a British-made film ALI G INDAHOUSE that went straight to video in the US). And some MMA fans reportedly were not amused as a supposed fight turned into a gay sex scene. Nor was a Dallas-area audience last month, lured out for a talk-show that turned into public gay passes and a 2-year-old “gay baby.”

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July 15, 2008 Posted by | Homosexuality, Sacha Baron Cohen | Leave a comment

Speaking of my being Dumbest Guy …

This weekend will mark my annual ritual of playing that role, at the Slapsticon Festival which runs Thursday to Sunday in Arlington.

The festival shows silent (with live piano accompaniment) and early-sound comedies, mostly short films (so even if you’re watching something that sucks, you know it’s not gonna suck for too long), and mostly focusing on stuff that’s not easily available on video and on comedians less known than e.g., Chaplin and Keaton. If you’re in the DC area and have any interest in movies, you should definitely come by and give it a whirl ($30 for a whole day of films; $16 for a half-day); and, incentive or disincentive, I’ll be there for all four days and every program.

This year’s program is here, and while I can truthfully say that with one exception all these titles are unknown to me … if the curiosity factor of what a Cecil B. DeMille comedy looks like doesn’t intrigue you … [VJM tries and fails for a sufficient metaphor of hopeless disbelief]. The biggest primetime “name” attraction is the Three Stooges, but it’ll be a program of “rarities,” rather than the oft-repeated episodes.

There are the annual cinematic acquaintanceships I look forward to restarting here since the video store hasn’t been kind to them: Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Drew (the creator of the family sitcom), Lupino Lane (a great pure athlete), Larry Semon (the most childish and clownish of them all), Lloyd Hamilton (the sickly, prickly stuffed shirt), Harry Langdon’s sound work (much better than its reputation), and 20s Sennett (much better than the better-known primitives from the 10s). And every year, there’s the annual “surprise” discoveries that happen (e.g., Stan Laurel solo, a lost Mabel Normand feature).

And after several years, there’s also the personal acquaintanceships that have started to develop. It’s an intimate enough festival to allow real interaction with programmers, print owners, longtime fans and some of the most eminent scholars in the field. Last year, I shared a couple of beers at the Holiday Inn with Paul Gierucki, the man who compiled the 4-disc Fatty Arbuckle DVD and he said IIRC that the long-thought-lost stuff that’s still turning up in archives around the world suggest that Arbuckle’s run of 1918-1919 work may have been the greatest stretch of work by any comedian on film.

But for now, Arbuckle’s last film, 1933’s TOMALIO will be playing Sunday morning, the last of the six Vitaphone shorts he made for Warner Brothers. Obviously, I can’t judge until I see it, but it’s a matter of historical record that those six shorts were impressive enough to earn him a Warners contract to star in a comedy feature, giving him the shot at both the real comeback he wanted and the vindication he deserved (though he died the day after signing the contract). I. Can’t. Wait.

July 15, 2008 Posted by | Slapsticon 2008 | 1 Comment

The dumbest guy in the room

GONZO (Alex Gibney, USA, 2008) — 6

Former work colleague Stacy and I went to see GONZO together last week, in part so he could review it for the American Spectator. I have long known that Stacy loves Hunter S. Thompson and had written several times for the newspaper on him, so I figured he’d get a kick about at least seeing GONZO.

But it made for an odd experience. Usually, when it comes to movies, I’m the Smartest Guy in the Room. Here, not so. Stacy knows far more about Thompson and his career than I do (most of what I know is filtered through the Doonesbury character Uncle Duke) and so he was uniquely equipped to write the kind of kick-ass review of GONZO that I never could.

The nub of Stacy’s complaint was that the film was too heavily focused on Thompson’s political involvement in “the Sixties,”¹ and thus skrimped heavily on large chunks of material, both from earlier and later.

Gibney … seems determined to force the square peg of Thompson idiosyncrasies into the round hole of contemporary liberal passions. It’s an awkward fit. At times, Gonzo seems more like a celebration of George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign than of Thompson’s journalism career. …

These political choices might be more easily forgiven if they did not result in Gonzo giving short shrift to other aspects of Thompson’s career.

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July 15, 2008 Posted by | Alex Gibney, Documentary, Stacy McCain | Leave a comment

“I hate spunk”

KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL (Patricia Rozema, USA, 2008) — 8

One measure of the strength of KIT KITTREDGE is that I never once guessed that it was based on a doll and could thus in principle have been as easily dismissed as a marketing exercise a la THE MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS.™ Since I am neither a 10-year-old-girl nor the father of one, the “American Girl” series of dolls was something that I first learned about researching to write this review. I’d have sworn blind this movie was based on some new Young Adult literature series, or the equivalent from the 1930s.

Another measure is that I should not like KIT KITTREDGE at all, given how specific it is in terms of sensibility — not only am I am not one now, but I have never been a 10-year-old girl; when I was a 10-year-old boy, you couldn’t have paid me to read “girl books” in case I catch coodies or something (“Encyclopedia Brown” was my favorite); I have no 10-year-old daughter to share a Daddy’s Movie Day with; I generally despise “chick flicks” (see, SEX AND THE CITY; or rather, I didn’t) or anything that strikes me as sentimental (see, SON OF RAMBOW). But KIT KITTREDGE won me over very quickly because Kit herself is so appealing and lovable as a character and Abigail Breslin perfectly embodies her — plucky without being obnoxious, as matter-of-fact as a child who hasn’t yet learned what a heartbreaker the world can be because she is herself still innocent and gentle-spirited. And since your humble writer is a curmudgeon who sympathizes utterly with Mr. Grant’s hatred of Mary’s character and who once (really and truly) said to a colleague, “everyone’s got a right to be perky, but you abuse the privilege” — that’s saying something.

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July 15, 2008 Posted by | Patricia Rozema, Stephen Hunter | 4 Comments